As we know, a LOT of people use our light rail system for recreational purposes.
According to a recent light rail ridership survey:
“Forty percent use light rail to travel between home and a destination other than work, such as attending special events, enjoying a night out with friends or running errands.”
This topic came up at a recent meeting with a Metro employee where we discussed , among other things, single car trains, crowd control, and ridership characteristics. Given the fact that we are still within the first year of the light rail system, it can be a challenge to handle weekends when a “flurry of activities” happen at once along the light rail line. For instance, a recent Saturday night there was a Diamondbacks game, a “Fall Frenzy” at Tempe Town Lake, and an ASU football game all going on at the same time. As I left the ASU game, I feared LONG lines at the station. As it turned out, Metro had several “3 car-trains” running more frequently than normal wihich allowed them to move very large groups of people rapidly from the stadium and Mill Avenue District. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.
With large numbers of Suns, Diamondback and Sun Devil fans using the system, and with the many festivals or concerts at Tempe Town Lake or Steele Indian School Park, Hillary Foose of Metro tells us they continue to monitor traffic patterns and allow for additional staff or trains to handle the loads. Yes, there has been criticism of “single car trains” during the summer months, but as our weather changes and as large events continue to draw large crowds, they now have a “guide” from the previous year’s numbers to help prepare for things like New Year’s Eve and other very large crowds. I have a feeling there will be people at Metro’s “command center” watching ridership and traffic patterns very closely.
Maybe next summer they will be prepared for those a/c bills…